Fantasy Football: Draft cheat sheet

Fantasy Football: Draft cheat sheet

These rankings are based on a combined yardagescoring system (4 points for a passing touchdown, 6 points for a rushingreceiving touchdown, one point for every 25 passing yards, one point for every 10 rushingreceiving yards) and will be updated weekly until the season begins. In-season, we will offer weekly rankings based on the matchups at hand.

Last Updated: 817

Quarterback
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Tom Brady, Patriots
NOTE: Looks primed for a monster year.
3. Drew Brees, Saints
NOTE: How much is Payton's absence worth?
4. Cam Newton, Panthers
5. Matthew Stafford, Lions
6. Eli Manning, Giants
NOTE: You never lose money on him.
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons
NOTE: Letter perfect in the preseason.
8. Michael Vick, Eagles
9. Philip Rivers, Chargers
NOTE: Can he make it work with these wideouts?
10. Peyton Manning, Broncos
NOTE: King of continuity heads to new city.
11. Tony Romo, Cowboys
NOTE: Trouble with his supporting cast.
12. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
13. Andrew Luck, Colts
NOTE: Blew his cover with snappy preseason debut.
14. Robert Griffin III, Redskins
15. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
NOTE: Could be a sleeper offense if key guys stay healthy.
16. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
NOTE: Will get most of the lost stats back.
17. Matt Schaub, Texans
NOTE: Nothing special to see here.
18. Jay Cutler, Bears
19. Carson Palmer, Raiders
NOTE: Good setup, but he'll make some loose throws.
20. Joe Flacco, Ravens
21. Andy Dalton, Bengals
22. Alex Smith, Niners
NOTE: They've added pieces, but do they trust him?
23. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
24. Christian Ponder, Vikings
NOTE: Vastly improved in season two.
25. Jake Locker, Titans
26. Sam Bradford, Rams
NOTE: The jury is getting restless.
27. Matt Flynn, Seahawks
28. John Skelton, Cardinals
29. Mark Sanchez, Jets
NOTE: Sabotaged by his own organization.
30. Tim Tebow, Jets
31. Matt Hasselbeck, Titans
32. Brandon Weeden, Broncos
33. Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
34. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
35. Matt Moore, Dolphins
36. David Garrard, Dolphins
NOTE: When you have three quarterbacks, you have a problem.
37. Chad Henne, Jaguars
38. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
39. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
40. Shaun Hill, Lions

Running Back
1. Arian Foster, Texans
2. Ray Rice, Ravens
3. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
4. Chris Johnson, Titans
NOTE: Strangely enough, he's a high-floor pick.
5. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
6. Matt Forte, Bears
NOTE: A force between the 20s, but often pulled at goal.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
8. Darren McFadden, Raiders
NOTE: Already missed 19 pro games.
9. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
10. Trent Richardson, Browns
NOTE: How quickly can he get healthy?
11. Fred Jackson, Bills
12. Steven Jackson, Rams
13. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
NOTE: Looks good, but they like Hillis as well.
14. Michael Turner, Falcons
NOTE: On his last legs, but still a goal-line factor.
15. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
NOTE: No one knows the right answer here.
16. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
NOTE: Gets points for toughness, but the surgeries keep adding up.
17. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
NOTE: How soon can he claim job?
18. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
NOTE: Vanilla all the way, but in a good spot.
20. Frank Gore, Niners
NOTE: Air is seeping out, and there's depth here.
21. Darren Sproles, Saints
22. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
23. Willis McGahee, Broncos
24. Donald Brown, Colts
NOTE: Has significant growth potential.
25. Reggie Bush, Dolphins
26. Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
NOTE: Reunited with OC from breakout 2010.
27. Shonn Greene, Jets
28. Ben Tate, Texans
NOTE: The most intriguing backup in the league; mad upside.
29. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
NOTE: No one likes him, not even the Cards.
30. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
31. Isaac Redman, Steelers
NOTE: Looked like a nifty sleeper before groin injury.
32. Stevan Ridley, Patriots
NOTE: There's some upside here, but team typically rotates backs.
33. C.J. Spiller, Bills
34. Mark Ingram, Saints
35. Roy Helu, Redskins
NOTE: Nicked up, and Shanahan loves to trick us.
36. Michael Bush, Bears
37. Pierre Thomas, Saints
38. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
NOTE: Exciting youngster will cut into Turner's time.
39. Toby Gerhart, Vikings
NOTE: Better than you think.
40. Kevin Smith, Lions
NOTE: By default, could be Detroit's starter.
41. Ryan Williams, Cardinals
42. James Starks, Packers
43. Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
NOTE: Ready to go if MJD isn't placated.
44. Isaiah Pead, Rams
45. Evan Royster, Redskins
46. David Wilson, Giants
47. Shane Vereen, Patriots
48. Alex Green, Packers
49. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
NOTE: Has he finally grown up?
50. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers
51. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
NOTE: Doubtful they force him into action right away.
52. Mike Goodson, Raiders
53. Felix Jones, Cowboys
54. Bernard Scott, Bengals
55. Cedric Benson, Packers
NOTE: On his last legs, but has a chance to start.
56. Ronnie Brown, Chargers
NOTE: Nothing special, but Mathews is hurt.
57. Kendall Hunter, Niners
58. Montarrio Hardesty, Browns
59. Bilal Powell, Jets
NOTE: Greene doesn't have infinite leash.
60. Taiwan Jones, Raiders
61. Tim Hightower, Redskins
62. Mikel Leshoure, Lions
NOTE: Out two games from drug suspension.
63. LeRon McClain, Chargers
64. Joe McKnight, Jets
65. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
66. Mike Tolbert, Panthers
67. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
68. Alfred Morris, Redskins
NOTE: Any Washington back could emerge, that's how it works.
69. Robert Turbin, Seahawks
70. LaMichael James, Niners
71. Brandon Jacobs, Niners
72. Javon Ringer, Titans
73. Jahvid Best, Lions
74. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals
75. D.J. Ware, Giants

Wide Receiver
1. Calvin Johnson, Lions
NOTE: In a tier of his own.
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
NOTE: A shift to Skelton would be appreciated.
3. A.J. Green, Bengals
4. Roddy White, Falcons
5. Julio Jones, Falcons
NOTE: Looks like obvious breakout player.
6. Jordy Nelson, Packers
7. Mike Wallace, Steelers
8. Wes Welker, Patriots
9. Victor Cruz, Giants
10. Hakeem Nicks, Giants
NOTE: Coming back from foot injury.
11. Andre Johnson, Texans
12. Greg Jennings, Packers
NOTE: Go away, concussion problems.
13. Steve Smith, Panthers
14. Miles Austin, Cowboys
15. Marques Colston, Saints
16. Brandon Marshall, Bears
17. Percy Harvin, Vikings
NOTE: Those rushing yards come in handy.
18. Eric Decker, Broncos
19. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
20. Antonio Brown, Steelers
NOTE: Should be in 7-9 touchdown range this year.
21. Stevie Johnson, Bills
22. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
23. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
NOTE: In a contract snit.
24. Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
NOTE: Back with Josh McDaniels, though Pats are crowded.
25. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
26. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
27. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
28. Robert Meachem, Chargers
NOTE: You worry about him changing teams.
29. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
NOTE: Oakland's wideouts are plenty deep.
30. Torrey Smith, Ravens
31. Pierre Garcon, Redskins
32. Denarius Moore, Raiders
33. Reggie Wayne, Colts
NOTE: Lots of bargains on this offense.
34. Lance Moore, Saints
NOTE: Has mind meld working with Brees.
35. Malcom Floyd, Chargers
36. Greg Little, Browns
37. Austin Collie, Colts
38. Kenny Britt, Titans
NOTE: Is he worth the constant headache?
39. Anquan Boldin, Ravens
NOTE: Upside has left the building.
40. Santonio Holmes, Jets
NOTE: When's the last time you really trusted him?
41. Nate Washington, Titans
NOTE: Underrated by everyone, Tennessee included.
42. Michael Crabtree, Niners
43. Titus Young, Lions
NOTE: Upside candidate, though he's trendy.
44. Mike Williams, Buccaneers
45. Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
46. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
NOTE: Most reliable wideout here.
47. Danny Amendola, Rams
48. Sidney Rice, Seahawks
NOTE: Uncertain health encouraged Owens move.
49. Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
50. Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs
NOTE: Should be much improved in year two.
51. James Jones, Packers
NOTE: Never will be a star, but could elevate if others are hurt.
52. Vincent Brown, Chargers
53. Brandon LaFell, Panthers
NOTE: No sure thing but has ability.
54. Kendall Wright, Titans
NOTE: Might be needed right away.
55. Nate Burleson, Lions
56. Randall Cobb, Packers
57. David Nelson, Bills
58. Terrell Owens, Seahawks
NOTE: We're not expecting much.
59. Davone Bess, Dolphins
60. Randy Moss, Niners
NOTE: See Terrell Owens.
61. Leonard Hankerson, Redskins
62. Jerome Simpson, Vikings
63. Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
64. Steve Smith, Rams
NOTE: He's raised eyebrows in camp.
65. Alshon Jeffery, Bears
66. Josh Morgan, Redskins
67. Santana Moss, Redskins
68. Stephen Hill, Jets
69. Rueben Randle, Giants
70. Mario Manningham, Niners
71. Donald Jones, Bills
NOTE: Still in running for starting spot.
72. Michael Floyd, Cardinals
NOTE: Hasn't picked up pro game very quickly.
73. Devery Henderson, Saints
74. Early Doucet, Cardinals
75. Brian Quick, Rams
76. Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
77. Steve Breaston, Chiefs
78. Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns
79. Jason Avant, Eagles
80. Brandon Stokley, Broncos
81. Josh Gordon, Browns
82. Earl Bennett, Bears
83. Danario Alexander, Rams
84. Kevin Walter, Texans
85. Golden Tate, Seahawks
NOTE: Struggling for a prominent role.
86. Devin Hester, Bears
NOTE: No one is impressed anymore.
87. Andre Caldwell, Broncos
88. Jeremy Kerley, Jets
89. Jacoby Ford, Raiders
90. Mike Thomas, Jaguars
91. Riley Cooper, Eagles
92. Chaz Schilens, Jets
93. Eddie Royal, Chargers
94. Donald Driver, Packers
NOTE: Not much left in the tank.

Tight End
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Jimmy Graham, Saints
NOTE: Interchangeable with Gronk, do what you like.
3. Antonio Gates, Chargers
NOTE: Moving well in early camp.
4. Jermichael Finley, Packers
NOTE: Mad skills, but drops too many passes.
5. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
6. Vernon Davis, Niners
NOTE: Finally has feel of Harbaugh's offense.
7. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
8. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
9. Jason Witten, Cowboys
NOTE: Spleen injury is worrisome.
10. Fred Davis, Redskins
NOTE: Super receiver, but has he grown up?
11. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
12. Jacob Tamme, Broncos
NOTE: Knows Manning, but will he play at goal?
13. Brent Celek, Eagles
14. Jared Cook, Titans
NOTE: Trendy sleeper, but let him come to you.
15. Greg Olsen, Panthers
16. Dustin Keller, Jets
17. Owen Daniels, Texans
18. Coby Fleener, Colts
NOTE: Played with Luck at Stanford.
19. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
NOTE: A tight end not bogged down by the dirty work, which is good.
20. Heath Miller, Steelers
21. Dennis Pitta, Ravens
22. Martellus Bennett, Giants
NOTE: A sleeper, just ask him.
23. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
24. Dwayne Allen, Colts
25. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins
26. Evan Moore, Browns
NOTE: So underrated, he's actually overrated.
27. Lance Kendricks, Rams
28. Scott Chandler, Bills
29. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs
30. Kellen Davis, Bears
31. Tony Scheffler, Lions
32. Ed Dickson, Ravens
33. John Carlson, Vikings
34. Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
NOTE: The bus left for good a while ago.

Kicker
1. David Akers, Niners
NOTE: Deserves this slot, but don't chase 2011 stats.
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
3. Mason Crosby, Packers
4. Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
NOTE: Long-distance leg, but still a wild card.
5. Alex Henery, Eagles
6. Matt Bryant, Falcons
NOTE: Could be a fun offense to bankroll.
7. Dan Bailey, Cowboys
8. Rob Bironas, Titans
9. Robbie Gould, Bears
10. Randy Bullock, Texans
NOTE: Great situation, but make sure he wins job.
11. Matt Prater, Broncos
12. Jason Hanson, Lions
NOTE: When does the age start to show?
13. Garrett Hartley, Saints
14. Neil Rackers, Redskins
15. Billy Cundiff, Ravens
NOTE: Had a good season before playoff mishap.
16. Nate Kaeding, Chargers
17. Mike Nugent, Bengals
18. Lawrence Tynes, Giants
19. Shaun Suisham, Steelers
NOTE: Good luck kicking in Heinz Field.
20. Steven Hauschka, Seahawks
21. Ryan Succop, Chiefs
22. Jay Feely, Cardinals
23. Rian Lindell, Bills
NOTE: Wind tunnel doesn't help him.
24. Phil Dawson, Browns
25. Connor Barth, Buccaneers
26. Dan Carpenter, Dolphins
27. Josh Scobee, Jaguars
28. Josh Brown, Jets
NOTE: This offense looks absolutely toxic.
29. Adam Vinatieri, Colts
30. Greg Zuerlein, Rams
31. Justin Medlock, Panthers
32. Blair Walsh, Vikings
33. John Kasay, Saints
34. Olindo Mare, Panthers
35. Nick Folk, Jets
36. Nick Novak, Chargers
37. Shayne Graham, Texans

Defense
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Green Bay Packers
3. New York Giants
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Chicago Bears
6. Seattle Seahawks
NOTE: Especially nasty at home.
7. Buffalo Bills
8. Detroit Lions
9. Dallas Cowboys
NOTE: Follow the sacks.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
11. New England Patriots
12. New York Jets
13. Houston Texans
14. Baltimore Ravens
NOTE: A sure bet to be overdrafted - avoid.
15. Denver Broncos
16. Kansas City Chiefs
NOTE: A tough out at Arrowhead.
17. Atlanta Falcons
18. Cincinnati Bengals
19. Arizona Cardinals
NOTE: A few playmakers offer run-back juice.
20. San Diego Chargers
21. Minnesota Vikings
NOTE: Even with Jared Allen, not much here.
22. Tennessee Titans
23. Washington Redskins
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Cleveland Browns
NOTE: A better group than many realize.
26. New Orleans Saints
27. Oakland Raiders
28. Miami Dolphins
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
30. St. Louis Rams
31. Indianapolis Colts
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
NOTE: Offense will sell them down the river.

Orioles end scoreless streak with 1-0 win in 10 innings

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Orioles end scoreless streak with 1-0 win in 10 innings

BALTIMORE – It’s early May, and the Orioles have already experienced a round of American League East play, and they like what they’ve seen. 

In an extraordinarily tense game, the Orioles broke a 21-inning scoreless streak by pushing a run across in the 10th inning for a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees before 19,598 at Oriole Park on Thursday night.

The Orioles have played each of their four AL East opponents, and are 9-5 against them. They’ll now play out of the division for 27 games. 

With Kevin Gausman and Masahiro Tanaka both pitching magnificently, it took them leaving the game after eight innings for a run to finally come home. 

Gausman finished by throwing eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. Tanaka gave up five hits in eight shutout innings. 

“I kept telling myself in the dugout, ‘He’s not going to give in, I’m not going to give in,’” Gausman said. 

“That’s just one of those good pitching performances, going back and forth. I felt like I’d sit back in the dugout and then go right back out there.”

Hyun Soo Kim started the 10th with an infield single off Johnny Barbato (1-2). Kim advanced to third on a single to left by Jonathan Schoop. 

Andrew Miller came in to face Pedro Alvarez, who flied to fairly short center. Reimold beat Jacoby Ellsbury’s throw home for the winning run. 

“Just try to get a ball up where I can put a good swing on it and hopefully hit it deep enough or where nobody's [and we] can score. I'm just trying to hit the ball. I'm just trying to square it up. Obviously, if I get a pitch that's up in the zone then there's more probability of the ball being in the air, that's why i was looking for a pitch up and just putting a good swing on it,” Alvarez said. 

Kim, who a month ago had yet to play his first game, is now 10-for-18 in seven games. His .556 batting average is certainly unexpected, but the fun he had in setting up the win, made him ecstatic. 

““It’s just indescribably great for me to win a game like that. I’m really enjoying the moment,” Kim said through his translator. 

Darren O’Day started the ninth with two outs, and after Starlin Castro singled, Zach Britton who hadn’t pitched since spraining his left ankle on Saturday, came in to face Brian McCann. 

On a 3-1 pitch, Britton threw a strike to McCann, and Matt Wieters fired the ball to shortstop where Manny Machado tagged Castro out to end the ninth. 

“That entire at-bat I was kind of feeling like my focus was on whether or not I was going to feel (the ankle discomfort) every pitch, even though I wasn’t. And then, obviously, Matt made a huge play right there to get us back in the dugout. So I felt like that time in the dugout, sitting on the bench, I was able to come down and refocus a little bit,” Britton said. 

After walking Brian McCann to start the 10th and later allowing a stolen base to pinch runner Brett Gardner, Britton (2-1) struck out the side. 

This was Gausman’s third start of the season, and he’s gotten better each time. 

“He was something, wasn’t he? He was solid,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

While Showalter marveled at Gausman’s growth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi seethed. He felt Gausman was balking, and third base umpire Chris Guccione ejected Girardi for arguing after Starlin Castro was left on third to end the top of the fourth. 

Gausman, who can give the Orioles a lift if he can become a topline starter, feels that in his fourth year, he’s finally arriving. 

“I think obviously my confidence is growing. I just feel a lot more confident at this level. Some guys get to the big leagues and already are comfortable. This is the first year I’ve really felt, I know what I’m doing. When I take the mound there’s no question if my stuff is going to play or not. Now, it’s more about making pitches,” Gausman said. 

The Orioles (16-11) took two of three from New York (9-17). 

Showalter used Reimold and Joey Rickard as pinch runners, and continues to use a three-man bench. By the time the Orioles play next, that could change. 

The Orioles have been carrying 13 pitchers, and wanted to keep them all until Britton showed he was physically able to pitch. 

Paul Janish, whose wife is about to deliver their third child, may be joining the team. Showalter also mentioned Jimmy Paredes as a possibility. 

NOTE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series on Friday night. Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (1-3, 5.20).

Nationals' bats can't come up with enough late in loss to Cubs

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Nationals' bats can't come up with enough late in loss to Cubs

By JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Kyle Hendricks pitched six scoreless innings, Ben Zobrist drove in four runs and the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series between two of baseball's hottest teams.

Hendricks (2-2) allowed two hits, struck out four and walked two as Chicago began a 10-game homestand with its fourth consecutive win and eighth in nine games.

Zobrist hit a two-run single in the fourth and a two-run homer in the eighth, helping the Cubs improve their major league-best record to 21-6 for their best start since they were 23-4 in 1907.

Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper singled and walked twice against Hendricks, but the right-hander shut down the rest of Washington's lineup. Michael Taylor was stranded at second after a two-out double in the third for the Nationals' first hit.

Jayson Werth hit a long two-run homer in the ninth for Washington, which had won five of six, including a 13-2 victory at World Series champion Kansas City on Wednesday. The Nationals began the day with baseball's second-best record at 19-8.

Joe Ross (3-1) matched Hendricks for much of the chilly night, striking out nine in 6 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed five hits and walked two.

One rough stretch was enough to send Ross to his first loss since Aug. 16 at San Francisco.

Chicago's first four batters in the fourth reached safely, producing two runs. Tommy La Stella singled, Kris Bryant had a ground-rule double and Anthony Rizzo was walked intentionally before Zobrist's single to right gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Rizzo was thrown out trying to advance to third on Zobrist's hit, and Ross retired the next two hitters to get out of the inning. But the damage was done.

Clayton Richard and Justin Grimm combined for a perfect seventh for Chicago before Pedro Strop wriggled out of a jam in the eighth.

Zobrist connected for his third homer and Addison Russell added an RBI double in the bottom half, providing some valuable breathing room.

After Werth went deep against Travis Wood with two down, Hector Rondon retired Wilson Ramos on a liner to first for the final out.

Washington second baseman Daniel Murphy was greeted with a round of boos when he came to the plate in the second inning. It was Murphy's first game at Wrigley Field since he hit four homers while helping the New York Mets sweep the Cubs in the NL Championship Series last year.

CHANGE OF PLANS

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward tested his sore right wrist in batting practice and was planning to return to the lineup on Friday if he felt OK. But he ended up playing center in the series opener after Dexter Fowler was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Vic Carpazza after he struck out looking to end the third.

Heyward, who signed a $184 million, eight-year contract with Chicago during free agency, went 0 for 2 with a strikeout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: OF Ben Revere, who is on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, rejoined the team and could be activated soon. "I'd rather wait an extra day, especially because I've seen too many guys say I'm ready and they come back and they do it again," manager Dusty Baker said. "Hopefully he doesn't injure himself again the rest of the year."

Cubs: C Miguel Montero, on the DL with lower back tightness, hit before the game and manager Joe Maddon said trainer P.J. Mainville was encouraged with his progress.

UP NEXT

Washington ace Max Scherzer (3-1, 3.35 ERA) takes on John Lackey (3-1, 4.32 ERA) in a matchup of veteran right-handers on Friday afternoon. Scherzer is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three career starts at Wrigley. Lackey needs six strikeouts to become the fifth active pitcher with at least 2,000 Ks, joining CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez and Jake Peavy.

Ross' 9 Ks not enough to overcome Zobrist and Hendricks' big night

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Ross' 9 Ks not enough to overcome Zobrist and Hendricks' big night

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night at Wrigley Field:

How it happened: Ben Zobrist came to play. The highly prized free agent signed during the offseason to round out the Cubs infield started things off early, driving in Tommy La Stella and Kris Bryant in the fourth inning on a single to put the Cubs.

Four innings later, with the Nationals unable to make good contact off Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO), Zobrist tacked on two more thanks to a big, two-out home run to left field off reliever Felipe Rivero.

Two batters later, Addison Russell drove in Ryan Kallish on a double off Joe Kelley to put the Cubs up 5-0.

Bryce Harper reached on a walk in the top of the ninth and Jayson Werth cleared the bases on a home run off Travis Wood, but Carlos Rodon shut the door on Wilson Ramos and the Nats, procuring the final out.

What it means: The 5-1 win moves the Cubs' run differential to an absurd +96. It's still an early-season series, but four games in Chicago will help fuel the narrative heading toward the All-Star break. The Nats' bats were cold, but Bryce Harper reaching base four times is a good sign that maybe brief slump is coming to an end.

Ross' standout start: Despite suffering his first loss of the year, Joe Ross tossed perhaps his best game of the 2016 campaign. Although he gave up a season-high two runs, he also recorded a season-high nine strikeouts and allowed just five hits and two balls.

His slider was working early, recording his first three punchouts using his go-to pitch. The 22-year-old hurler continues to dazzle early in the year and his been a pleasant surprise.

He faced his biggest test to date and while he took the loss, his performance certainly wasn't anything to scoff at.

With a 1.23 ERA, he ranks behind just Gio Gonzalez and Jake Arrieta for the league lead. That's good company to keep.

Murphy comes up empty: Daniel Murphy did not record a hit. That may sound a bit odd and with good reason. Thursday night was just the fourth time all season Murphy has failed to get a hit this season. His two strikeouts was also a rareity, just the second-time he's been sent down twice in one outing in 2016. But fear not. Each of Murphy's hitless games have been followed up by multi-hit games with at least one RBI. Friday will be different for sure.

Revere waits again: There was speculation that Ben Revere would make his return to the lineup on Thursday after spending a month on the DL due to a strained oblique he suffered during the first week of the season. But after giving it a go in pregame warmups it was determined that one more day of rest would get Revere back to 100%, and he is expected to be back on the field on Friday, 

What's next: Max Scherzer (3-1, 3.31 ERA) takes on John Lackey (3-1, 4.32 ERA) on Friday afternoon with Lackey needing just six strikeouts to become the fifth active starter with at least 2,000 Ks, joining the likes of Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez, Jake Peavy and CC Sabathia.